Press Release - Friends of the Irish Environment 20th Dec 2019
An environmental group has issued a ‘Call to Arms’ targeting the Government’s newly published Housing and Planning and Development Bill 2019, recently opened for Public Consultation.
The Bill, which imposes restrictions on citizens bringing Judicial Reviews of planning decisions, has been in part triggered by delays in the planning system leading to the withdrawal of plans for Apple at Athenry and the referral to the European Court of Justice of the US New Fortress Energy Shannon LNG terminal as well as a number of cases taken by environmental campaigner Peter Sweetman.
The proposed restrictions include a requirement for community groups or NGOs [non-Governmental organisations] to be established for three years rather than the current one year and a requirement for them to have a minimum of 100 members. Changes to the ‘cost’ rules will make it more difficult for ‘pro bono’ representation. The requirement for being granted leave to bring a Judicial review will replace ‘sufficient’ interest with a ‘substantial’ interest in a way which must be ‘peculiar or personal’.
FIE has said that the changes run entirely counter to the European Commission’s current enforcement policy. ‘While Environmental law has traditionally been reliant on the European Commission’, a spokesman said, ‘in these last years the Commission has started to withdraw from enforcement. From 1992 - 2010 60% of the environmental cases before the European Court of Justice were initiated by the Commission. This has fallen to 22% in 2017.
‘The Commissions is undertaking efforts to ‘outsource’ enforcement to environmental NGOs by systematically promoting access for such groups to national courts through Aarhus Convention on Access to Justice. This Convention requires member states to give ‘access to administrative or judicial procedures to challenge acts and omissions by private persons and public authorities.’ Yet Ireland is placing obstacles for access to our Courts when the Courts are the only appeal from large scale projects.’
‘We are encouraging citizens and citizens group to make their voices heard during the submission period to make our opposition clear to the State. The rights of citizens to access our courts goes back to the Magna Carta.
Submission can be made until January 27, 2020.
Andreas Hofmann (2019) Left to interest groups? On the prospects for enforcing environmental law in the European Union, Environmental Politics, 28:2, 342-364, DOI: 0.1080/09644016.2019.1549778 Link to this article:
FIE Initial PR
Village Magazine: Environmental Justice Astray, December 2019:
Tony Lowes: 353 (0) 87 2176316
David Healy [Irish language]: 353 (0)87 6178852
This Press Release:
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